INDUSTRIAL FIRE BRIGADE SECTION
Fire Protection and Fighting System at the Plymouth Cordage Company
FIRE is a menace in all large plants and causes the management considerable anxiety. This is especially so in a cordage plant with its inflammable raw materials in storage and in process.
Many disastrous mill fires have come from entirely unexpected conditions, such as unsuitable weather for working stock, and accidents, so that one can never feel sure of being free from the danger of a bad fire. The case of one very large plant that had three possible sources of water supply for fire protection, every one of which failed in an emergency, with a large resulting loss, may be cited as an illustration of how the best-laid plans amiss.
At Plymouth Cordage the management has not spared expense in protecting the interests of all; suggestions of able insurance engineers have been carried out, and the plant appears in good condition to prevent fires or to fight them. The old saying, “Prevention is better than cure.” is never nearer the truth than when used in connection with fire. Smoking is prohibited in the mills and mill yards, and so is the carrying of loose matches. Pennv-in-the-slot Safety Match Machines are located at the mill entrances, which minimize the carrying of ordinary matches. During shut-down periods an ample force of watchmen makes hourly trips which cover the entire premises. Hazardous processes such as the use of pickers are in isolated rooms. Care is taken to keep the premises free from rubbish. Oily rags are kept in metal containers. The help is very well informed about the danger from fire.
For fire fighting there are on the premises four Underwriter Pumps of a combined capacity of 3,700 gallons per minute, which would supply some fifteen large hose streams. These pumps have ample suction supply from ponds, and serve ample supply serve through large mains sixty hydrants scattered about the yard. Most of these hydrants are in houses equipped with hose, nozzles, axes, bars, etc. Besides these there are eight hose reels, each with five hundred feet of hose, the total amount of tire hosebeing 8,500 feet. The hydrant system contains a number of subdividing valves, so located that in the event of a bad break the crippled section can be cut out, leaving the pumps available on the remainder.
A large main from the town of Plymouth connects, through check valves, into the yard mains and keeps the ordinary static pressure on the sprinkling systems. This town main is also available for immediate use to supply a few fire streams without starting the fire pumps. If this town pressure is reduced from a break or other shut off in the streets, two of the fire pumps automatically come onto the mains.
The buildings are 95 per cent sprinklered and require about 18,500 sprinkler heads. In the remaining five per cent of the buildings, the construction is either non-combustable or sprinklers are under consideration. The storehouses being unheated have thirty 6-inch dry-pipe valves for their sprinklers. Two hundred fire doors are installed for the various cut-offs. Electric apparatus is supplied with tetrachloride extinguishers. There is also some foam equipment, which with over 300 small hose outlets through the mills, water barrels and buckets, 2 1/2-gallon extinguishers, ladder equipment, etc., seems to furnish adequately
all essential apparatus. The investment in fire protection and fighting equipment is approximately $150,000.
The company maintains an organized fire department, men selected from the mechanical rooms, who live near the plant. These men are drilled weekly, except in winter, on hose lines to encourage initiative, and to familiarize them with the available apparatus and the buildings. A secondary call crew reports at an alarm of fire to assist the regular drilled men and take over the work of safeguarding the stock and machinery, particularly from water damage. A Gamevvell System, with nine boxes around the yard, works the fire whistle and gives the location in an annunciator in the head watchman’s office where there is always a man on duty. The alarms on the storehouse dry-pipe valves also all ring in at this point. The different parts of the system are subject to careful, regular inspections by competent men, and receive regular inspections of the fire insurance companies’ experts.
The town of Plymouth also is prepared to furnish valuable assistance. It has an excellent motor-driven equipment and a superior organization. A pull on the town Gamewell box, which is near the head watchman’s office, brings one 750 and two 350-gallon motor pumps; one ladder truck with hose and chemical material. These pieces in ordinary weather would reach the plant in about five minutes. On a second alarm, one horsedrawn steamer of 900 gallons and other of 500 gallons would respond. There are ample pond and harbor facilities for suction supply to this pumping apparatus.
Our responsibility to the trade in supplying both rope and binder twine for the world markets, where and whenever needed, is never for a moment lost sight of, and these efforts along fireprevention lines to safeguard our plant from fire losses, insure uninterrupted production of our cordage products, availability of their supply, and dependable service at all times so far as is humanly possible.—A . F. P. A. Quarterly.